Life Magazines from the 1960's
Life Magazine called the 1960s “A Divided Decade” that defied efforts to classify and label it. There was a feeling of hope and optimism as old barriers of race, gender and lifestyle began to break down. At the same time, a wave of violence and unrest was sweeping across the US. LIFE Magazine’s reputation as a top news magazine guaranteed that its stories captured the hope and cynicism that were the hallmark of a tumultuous decade.
LIFE Magazine had a lot to cover in the 1960s. The political scene alone, with the space race, civil rights movement, feminist movement, anti-war movement, Cuban Missile Crisis, the Watts race riots and the assassinations of President Kennedy, Malcom X and Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been enough. But covering the cultural revolution - from The Beatles to communes to Woodstock - and the “computer” revolution kept LIFE Magazine reporters scrambling, successfully, for the stories that would make LIFE Magazine that much more important as a historical record.
One of the most important stories that LIFE Magazine would ever cover was the Vietnam War. From sending photographers to the trenches to covering the stories of draft dodgers and deserters, LIFE Magazines during the 1960s explored every aspect of the most highly televised conflict in history. LIFE Magazine would do it’s part to shape the story, as well. One of LIFE’s most memorable stories was from an issue published on June 27, 1969. Editor-in-chief Hedley Donovan approved a yearbook-like spread of photos of the 242 soldiers who died in Vietnam between May 28 and June 3. That feature did what the editor hoped - it burned into the American consciousness the young faces of the men who fought.
So many other pivotal moments in history occurred between 1960 and 1969 that it’s hard to document them here, but LIFE Magazine captured the opinions, words and images that defined an undefinable decade. A look through any one of the LIFE Magazines we carry from the 1960s will give you an up-close look at history being made.